Month 1 Update - Neighborhood Accelerator Summer 2024

We’re one month into our first run of the Cabin Neighborhood Accelerator and I wanted to write up a build-in-public style update to give you a sense of how the program is going + what we’re learning.

Here are some quick stats on the program to bring folks up to date:

  • We received 87 applications for the Summer 2024 Neighborhood Accelerator cohort
  • 16 folks made the cut hailing from all over, but mostly the US. In future programs we’re seeking to expand our marketing to reach a wider set of global demographics. Here are the current neighborhood stewards:

And here are the locations of their neighborhoods around the world:

  • 2 folks left the program shortly after starting (1 because she learned that she needed to move unexpectedly and will be joining us in the Fall program when she’s settled and the other decided it’s no longer a good fit for her to participate)

  • 6 of the 14 participants are parents and are seeking to build a support network for families in their neighborhoods

  • 2 participants (Shani in Perth, Australia and Forest in Olympia, WA) have been already neighborhood building for 10+ years and 5+ years respectively. We didn’t expect people with established neighborhood communities to want to participate in this program. More on this in the Learnings section below.

  • We have 4 mentors in the program: Shani Graham, Graham McBain (@McBain) , Phil Levin, and Priya Rose (@prigoose)

  • The interface of the program consists of:

    • the weekly group calls where we share out progress, cowork on our work that week, and support each other when challenges come up (often with mentors joining for the calls too). The agendas for these calls shift based on what folks in the program need most at that time.
    • mentor calls for neighborhood stewards to ask questions and dive deeper into topics with mentors
    • a telegram chat for async conversations (asking mentors questions, sharing out progress reports, sharing ideas, noodling on questions together, etc.)
    • a notion database with resources, and step-by-step guides on knocking on doors, hosting events, getting your neighbors to step up as leaders, etc.

What we did in Month 1

1. Neighborhood Stewards got to know each other and we created a culture of mutual support & vulnerability.

2. We met the mentors in the program and learned what to go to them for. We had some great mentor calls with Shani & Graham. The stewards felt assured that they’re not crazy and that it is possible to build the neighborhoods they’re trying to build.

3. Then we wrote out our visions for our neighborhoods (while not holding onto them too tightly as we want to make space for the visions of our neighbors too). Here are some lines from folks’ visions (shared with permission):

4. We decided what the geographic boundaries of our neighborhoods are. Here are examples of the boundaries different folks used to determine where their neighborhoods were and thus which people they were going to engage as their neighbors. You can imagine how density changes how wide you cast your net.

You can see the full map of @savkruger + @jonbo’s neighborhood in Boulder, CO here.

5. We then planned our first event where we’d bring our neighbors together. Some people hosted rooftop dinner parties overlooking the New York skyline, some hosted Taco Tuesday gatherings, others hosted Trump-Biden debate watch parties, others hosted park picnics + book swaps, and others are hosting a jenga party in the next few days. All of these events are the first of many experiments to see what neighbors will come to and get excited about. (Pictures of the events below)

6. We made flyers for our events to hand out to neighbors. Here are some examples of folks’ flyers. We learned that hand-drawn flyers are especially wholesome and can work well.

@jonbo and my flyer for our event last week

Stephen with his and Kathi’s flyer

Neighbors of Shani’s with their monthly neighborhood flyers

7. Then we started connecting with neighbors by knocking on doors, talking to our neighbors on walks, flyering, and partnering with events that are already happening in our neighborhoods that neighbors attend. Here are some shots of the process:

Two adorable neighborhood builders flyering with Bethany in NYC

+Here’s a link to the before and after videos when @jonbo and I (Savannah) knocked on doors in our neighborhood.

8. And finally we hosted our first events. Here are some pictures of folks’ events:

Pivoting When Things Don’t Work

Sometimes it went well and sometimes it didn’t. What’s gorgeous is that folks like Bethany and Kathi are pivoting and exploring other options.

Here’s Bethany trying out another approach…

And here’s Kathi trying a new strategy and making things happen. What rockstars!

What We’re Learning

“Turn your friends into neighbors” → “turn your neighbors into friends”.

When we originally designed the program we wanted to help stewards do 2 things:

  1. build bonds with their neighbors and
  2. get their friends to come move into their neighborhood.

Examples like Fractal and Radish are such appealing possibilities. But as we dove into the work we found that it’s easier to get people to move into your neighborhood when there’s already a great sense of community there. We also found that building a community based on proximity is very different than building a community based on affinity. They’re fundamentally different worldviews.

Thus the program’s curriculum needed to shift to accommodate the fact that most people wanted to build community with their neighbors first, then invite friends to come move in second. We expect to refocus on getting friends to come move into neighborhoods in the later chunk of the program as people make progress.

Established neighborhood builders want this too.

We’re learning that people who have already built amazing neighborhood communities want to participate in our program in addition to folks who are just starting out. Shani Graham (been doing this for 10+ years) and Forest Gibson (5+ years) wanted to participate in the program too. Despite already accomplishing many of the goals folks just starting out on the neighborhood-building journey have, they joined the program to receive the following:

  • the support and camaraderie of working alongside other folks building neighborhoods
  • accountability to work on their neighborhood each week
  • fresh perspectives on neighborhood-building they may not have considered

As we went through the program this month we adjusted the kinds of support we offered these folks and sought to help them accomplish their own set of goals for their neighborhoods. This brings up the idea that we don’t necessarily need a whole new group of folks to take the fall program as many from the Summer cohort may want to join the Fall cohort and receive continued support and accountability.

Whoever comes are the right people.

Our mentor and fellow neighborhood steward, Shani Graham, shared the following in a telegram message:

A lot of folks in the program have repeated this idea as we host events and try to build momentum in our neighborhoods.

Give people jobs!

Shani told us “when I plan an event I don’t run it unless I can think of at least 6 jobs to give people who attend.” At one event she hosted there were a bunch of chairs already out in the perfect spots for the event and she put them away just so folks could help her put them out again!
This way of operating felt hilariously foreign to a lot of folks in the program. It’s so easy to think that your house needs to be spotless and everything needs to be perfect if you’re going to have people over. Instead, Shani encouraged folks to empower their neighbors to contribute by giving them jobs and even making up jobs. It’s a powerful shift away from doing things for people to doing things with people.

Building neighborhoods is a slow, long game.

We knew this, we said it out loud to each other, and yet it’s so easy to think that a whole gorgeous community will happen with just a few weeks of effort. In a world of immediate gratification, it takes a lot more energy to make a neighborhood happen. And that’s ok.

Neighborhood building is meaningful and hard because it’s often deeply personal. Everyone in the program had their own story to share about feeling lonely or like they didn’t belong that led them to this work. Each of us is building our neighborhood because we care, because we need this, and because we want this for our loved ones. So when things don’t work out as quickly as we’d like it’s easy for all those past painful moments of not belonging and feeling alone to come right back up.
We hold our pain, hold each other, and keep going knowing that we’re the ones that can create the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.

Looking Ahead

So there you have it. Those are some highlights and learnings from our first month of the program!

We’re now shifting into a more emergent chapter where each neighborhood steward has laid out what their goals are for the remaining 2 months of the program and we’re charting individual roadmaps to get there. Each of us is building in a different cultural and geographic context with different neighbors so it’ll be less about following a curriculum and more about taking concrete steps each week to move the ball forward in our neighborhoods and dance with what emerges. I really liked this line from the telegram about where we’re going now:

In about a month, we’ll share another update here. I welcome any questions and thoughts you might have in the comments below this post! And if you’re curious about joining us in for the next cohort of our program and building community in your neighborhood please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at :heart:


Loved reading this. Seems like the program is off to a great start.


Also I second the idea of giving people jobs. Your friends want to feel needed!

Plus: that means you have to do very little to prepare for the party. Usually I start cleaning up a few minutes before guests come and then let initial guests help me finish cleaning. Many hands make light (and quick) work. Also, I often order to-go food for parties, and when the food is ready I send two guests to walk to pick up the food.


Thanks for putting this together!

  1. Would it be possible to learn more about the tech that Cabin is building? We have a CTO, and it would be helpful to know/see what’s happening on that front and how it ties into the larger goals here?
  2. I understand that this is an early experiment, but Cabin has raised outside financing and the goal is to be on a path to build a big business. What ideas are we exploring on that front? What are we testing in this cohort? What are the ideas to implement in the next cohort?

I’ll let @grin speak to the technical work, but the TL;DR on the product goals is to get people plugged into opportunities with neighborhoods in their area via the city directory.

Re: potential business models, I will put together a more thorough stand alone post on our current thinking.